Home Local Sports Saint Mark’s volleyball overcomes determined Padua, 3-1: Photo gallery

Saint Mark’s volleyball overcomes determined Padua, 3-1: Photo gallery

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Julia Yurkovich of Saint Mark's watches her hit head toward Padua's defenders during the teams' match on Oct. 25. The defenders are Hannah McGuigan (21), Kaitlyn Leberstien (21) and libero Mandy Quinn. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Saint Mark’s volleyball team brings out the best in its opponents, and that certainly was true on Oct. 25, when Padua gave the Spartans fits through four competitive sets. In the end, Saint Mark’s came out on top, 3-1. Set scores were 21-25, 25-18, 25-22, and 25-17.

Playing in front of a full house, the Pandas came out and stunned their rival in the opening minutes. A Libby Neiburg smash, followed by an ace from Aanya Yatavelli staked the Pandas to an 8-4 lead, but the Spartans quickly closed the gap. A 4-0 run punctuated by a tip kill from Julia Yurkovich gave Saint Mark’s a 12-10 advantage.

The Spartans’ lead was three points when Padua began the climb back. Logan Tuschinski and Mary Mancini smashed back-to-back kills to tie the score at 20, and Hannah McGuigan lifted the Pandas back into the lead by going down the middle. A 4-1 run ended the set, with Liv Bowers providing the winning attack.

Yurkovich took out some frustration to begin the second set, scoring on consecutive monster kills as part of a 6-1 start that ended with Lauren Mehelas, then Yurkovich, bombing a few more points. Padua fought back with a 5-0 run that included two aces from Mandy Quinn, and the teams were tied at each point through 10-10.

An 8-2 stretch for the Spartans ended with Mehelas stuffing an overpass, and although the Pandas cut the deficit to three, they could not come all the way back. Ava Borcky helped bring the second to a close, crushing two straight balls to send it to set point. A Pandas attack error tied the match.

Mancini stood out as the Pandas opened up a 5-2 lead in the third. She put her team on top, 3-2, by winning a 50/50 battle at the net, then served up consecutive aces. Several Pandas — playing inspired defense and boosted by a large student section — contributed as they stretched their advantage to 11-7, and they weren’t done. Yatavelli and Tuschinski had kills among a series of unforced errors by the Spartans, and the lead grew to 18-13.

After a service error, the two players wearing No. 8 on their jersey took center stage. Borcky had two points for the Spartans, with Yatavelli then being blocked out of bounds. Borcky then hit a wild shot to the far corner, and Yatavelli connected on a crossing shot. The score was 20-17 in favor of the Pandas, but the Spartans weren’t done. The score was tied, 21-21, when Maddi Way put Saint Mark’s on top with a surprise shot, and Yurkovich had kills for the team’s final three points, the last one a bomb.

Taylor Holly aced two serves during a 5-0 start for the Spartans in the fourth set. Yurkovich had another smash, but the Pandas picked up their first point when Kaitlyn Leberstien threw up a block on the Spartan. Saint Mark’s, however, did not appear to want to go to a fifth, and an ace from Mehelas made it 11-4.

Padua cut the Spartans’ lead to three, 12-9, on an attack error, but the visitors, led by Borcky and Yurkovich, made sure it got no closer. The final point of the night belonged to Borcky, who put an exclamation point on the win by crushing the ball into the floor.

Yatavelli had nine kills and four aces for the Pandas, with Mancini finishing with seven kills and three aces. Quinn delivered seven aces. Padua (5-8) visits Ursuline on Thursday for a 7:15 p.m. start. Many of the Raiders were on hand to watch the match, as they will play Saint Mark’s as well this week.

Final statistics were not available for the Spartans (13-1), who host Ursuline in the state’s regular-season finale on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The DIAA volleyball committee will meet Sunday to determine the 24-team state tournament field.

All photos by Mike Lang.